Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Friend Forever

“John is adamant to go ahead with the divorce and it is no turning back for us now”, Mary called me to pour out her sorrows. Their marriage had started to go downhill when Mary found out by chance that John was seeing someone on the sly some years back. This had really traumatised Mary so much that she needed medication to control her emotions. I was not close to her then but overtime; I became one of her confidants whenever she yearned for a listening ear.

My relationship with John went back many years ago. Both John and I were secondary school classmates and his frivolous way of life is no surprise to me at all. At a young age of 18, he signed up for the Navy as a diver. The rigorous training in the Navy had transformed him into one tough young bloke. Coupled with his height and suave look, getting hitched with girls seemed like a routine for him then. He still looks dashing despite in his 40s now.

She hailed from Penang who came to work in Singapore as a trainee nurse in the mid 80s. The hospital’s hostel which she shared with the other trainee nurses was a favourite haunt for the Navy boys to find blind dates – John was intrigued to know more. When the two met, cupid struck immediately and before long, they were already going steady.

Their courtship days were never smooth sailing either. They broke off once but later patched up. They finally wedded in the early 90s, gave birth to a beautiful daughter and by then, Mary had left her nursing job for a sales vocation. She did superbly well in her new job and very soon, she had carved a niche as a career woman.

John continued to flirt with his string of girl friends and Mary had never suspected anything amiss all the while. She was supportive of him throughout and had worked hard to give her family a comfortable living.

Sometime in year 2001, it was then dawned on her that she learnt John had been cheating behind her. She could not concentrate working and she began to miss her monthly sales target. Quarrels subsequently became a regular affair for the two of them and finally, Mary decided to file for divorce.

Tried as much as I could to talk her out of taking this drastic step but she remained steadfast in her decision. She was drawing better salary whilst John who had ventured on own in his pest management business was struggling in his business. The financial impact would affect John more and the thought of losing custody of his only daughter was real, he knew it was lose-lose for him.

Their strained relationship then turned for the better when Mary came down with a bad flu one day and John was always there and attending to her every need. This had somewhat softened Mary’s heart and it created a chance for them to re-address their martial issues with each other. John finally made a pact to stop all contacts with all his girlfriends and Mary was convinced enough to forgive him this one time.

With their rekindled relationship on the mend, Mary and I had lesser contacts with each other gradually. Sometime in early 2006 and much to my dismay, Mary confided to me that John did not break off with his girlfriends despite the pact he had made. She had the hunch all the while that he did not make good his pact but by then, she had already grown to accept the situation. However, this time, it was John who initiated the divorce which saddened her greatly.

When she called me one day, she sounded very troubled for she very much wanted to salvage their battered marriage despite all her well-intended efforts but John remained steadfast.

Not long later, I received a text message from John informing that his wife had been diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. The news shocked me. Despite her illness, she still put up a brave front when I visited her. She talked about the future plans after her recovery and she remained positive throughout.

The treatment required her to undergo a chemotherapy session and John was always around which was what Mary needed most during this crucial period. The chemotherapy took some 3 months and she was already making plan to return back to work after the session. But her health took an abrupt turn for the worse and she had to be re-admitted to hospital. Her doctor informed John that some cancer cells had already spread to her brain.

By then, she had grown weaker and weaker. The pain she had to endure was beyond one’s description and it pained us to see her in such sorry stage particularly for John. Her condition did not improve despite new treatment recommended by her doctor. Some of her close friends organized a prayer session and the strong faith in her religion had kept her going and so too for John.

John and her family members stayed close to her throughout her ordeal. Recovery for her seemed remote, only a miracle could help. But John remained positive. Though she was physically weak, her mind was still clear and she could still talk.

I managed to see her in her last days but by then, she could not recognize anyone of us. Tried she did but words just could not come out from her mouth and the feared stare on her face did suggest that she knew her time was up. She finally slipped into comatose and never woke up. Rest in peace, my dear friend and you will live forever in my memory.

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